Grizzlies Set to Dawn New Era, as Memphis Starts the 2019-20 Season
For the better part of a decade, the anchors of the Memphis Grizzlies franchise were center Marc Gasol, and point guard Mike Conley. Both Gasol and Conley are with new teams this season as Gasol looks to help the Toronto Raptors defend their first NBA title, and Conley looks to help the Utah Jazz contend for one.
The 2019 offseason gave way to a lot of change for the Grizzlies organization. In one fell swoop, long-time general manager Chris Wallace was demoted to scouting duties, and replaced by assistant general manager Zach Kleiman. This move was followed by the firing of head coach J.B. Bickerstaff after the Grizzlies suffered 2 straight losing seasons. Bickerstaff would be replaced by Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Taylor Jenkins.
In a wild offseason, Kleiman made 7 different trades to restructure the Grizzlies roster, including moving Conley to Utah. Luck in the NBA draft lottery resulted in Memphis having the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, which they used to select Murray State point guard Ja Morant, as well as trading for the twenty-first pick and selecting Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke.
Morant and Clarke will pair with the fourth overall pick from the 2018 NBA Draft in forward Jaren Jackson Jr. The three young players look to be the franchise cornerstones to rebuild the Grizzlies for contention in the NBA's Western Conference.
The young trio will pair with lots of veteran experience in the locker room to help the Grizzlies win now. Center Jonas Valunciunas came to Memphis in the Marc Gasol trade and resigned in the offseason. Tyus Jones, Solomon Hill, and Miles Plumlee also come to the Grizzlies in moves this offseason. The lone holdovers from the previous regime will be guard Dillon Brooks and forward Kyle Anderson who both have played extensive minutes for the Grizzlies in previous seasons.
The team will dawn the new era as they head to Miami to take on the Heat to tip off the 2019-20 season tonight. Tipoff from the American Airlines Arena is at 6:30 p.m. CT.